National efforts to have natural gas recognized as a viable transportation fuel option could get a boost from carbon dioxide (CO2) and fuel efficiency standards finalized Tuesday, even as the first quarter’s double impact of the coronavirus and global economic slowdown hit the natural gas vehicles (NGV) market.

Washington, DC-based NGVAmerica and four partnering trade groups said that the new Safe Affordable Fuel Efficiency (SAFE) rules, as outlined in regulations released jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recognize that “NGVs are a key to cleaner, safer alternative transportation options.”

NGV technology, combined with renewable natural gas (RNG), or biogas, is readily available in the light-duty passenger car, pickup truck, van and SUV segments, according to NGVAmerica’s coalition, which includes the American Gas Association, American Public Gas Association, RNG Coalition, and American Biogas Council.

The alternative fuel transportation regulations double credits for NGV sales, set greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions measurements for the tailpipe, apply a 0.15 fuel efficiency factor, and allow for larger fuel economy and GHG credits for natural gas.

The Covid-19 crisis is impacting NGV manufacturing and business operations globally, NGVAmerica President Daniel Gage told NGI Thursday. Production and supply chains for the natural gas-powered vehicles segment are shut down, he said.

“Certainly operators are suffering,” Gage said. “I suspect smaller players are experiencing it in greater severity, but I don’t have any specific examples at this time.”

Gage said that the numbers of NGV buses and other public transit vehicles in use may be down, but heavy duty vehicles for moving groceries and refuse -- primarily used with NGV and RNG technologies -- are in major use during the virus crisis.